The Pali word 'Metta' is commonly translated in English as 'loving-kindness.' Metta signifies friendship and non-violence as well as "a strong wish for the happiness of others."
Metta is a very specific form of love, a caring for another independent of all self-interest, and thus it is likened to one's love for one's child or parent. In the practice of Metta meditation, one recites specific words and phrases in order to evoke this "boundless warm-hearted feeling." The strength of this feeling is not limited to or by family, religion, or social class. Metta is a tool that permits one's generosity and kindness to be applied to all beings and, as a consequence, one finds true happiness in another person's happiness, no matter who the individual is.
The hard work and repetition required of an individual engaged in Metta practice endows the four universal wishes (to live happily and to be free from hostility, affliction, and distress), with a very personal inner love, and by so doing, it has the power for personal transformation.
Although traditionally practitioners of Metta meditation offer Metta for an hour or more morning and evening, you may wish to begin by offering Metta for just 10-15 minutes each day. You may do your practice as a formal sitting meditation or while walking or while completing daily chores.
Although one traditionally starts by offering Metta for 'oneself ' and ends by offering Metta to 'all beings,' please do not expect to be able to immediately offer these phrases to all beings from the onset of your practice. We all struggle to offer this unconditional love to many people in our lives, and it is truly difficult to include everyone, though this aspiration is reasonable if we are committed to Metta practice.
Awareness of our feelings toward another is always the first step in converting this energy into loving-kindness. Noticing a feeling of aversion, or indecisiveness, when evoking the image of a particular person does not mean you are failing at your practice. Rather, you are leaping forward in your practice by becoming aware of your aversion.
According to Buddhist teachings, the worst plague a human being can suffer is one that s/he cannot identify, or does not even know exists. Aversions (and cravings) that lie below the level of conscious awareness fuel habit patterns of the mind that lead to suffering. So, as you peel away the layers of self, allow any negative emotions to arise, so that you can actively embrace them with Metta, loving-kindness.
May you be well
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May you rest in your True Nature.